Falcons Reportedly Asked Multiple Prospects Sexual Orientation Questions

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistMarch 5, 2016

Ohio State defensive back Eli Apple is seen at the NFL football scouting combine Monday, Feb. 29, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)
Gregory Payan/Associated Press

A day after Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple revealed that an Atlanta Falcons coach asked him if he liked men during an interview at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, a report from D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution indicated the team's inappropriate questions may have been directed toward several players. 

"A few players told me the Falcons were asking gender questions," a person familiar with the NFL combine interviewing process and questions told Ledbetter. "After (Michael) Sam and the Jonathan Martin situation, teams want to be careful."

Apple originally revealed that a Falcons coach asked him about his sexual orientation when discussing his combine experience during a Friday appearance on Comcast SportsNet's Breakfast on Broad, but Falcons head coach Dan Quinn quickly released a statement expressing his displeasure with the actions of a member of his staff, per the 700 Level's Enrico Campitelli

I am really disappointed in the question that was asked by one of our coaches. I have spoken to the coach that interviewed Eli Apple and explained to him how inappropriate and unprofessional this was. I have reiterated this to the entire coaching staff and I want to apologize to Eli for this even coming up. This is not what the Atlanta Falcons are about and it is not how we are going to conduct ourselves.

The NFL followed suit and condemned the question. 

"This is disappointing and clearly inappropriate as the Falcons acknowledged," NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said, per Ledbetter. "We will look into it."

According to Ledbetter, the NFL issued a memo in 2014 when Michael Sam was attempting to enter the league "reminding teams that questions about sexual orientation are against league policy as well as federal employment discrimination laws."  

Ledbetter added that the Falcons could face punishment from the league in the form of a fine, suspension or even draft-pick forfeiture—sanctions that wouldn't be foreign to a franchise that was fined $350,000 and stripped of a fifth-round draft pick in 2016 for pumping fake crowd noise into the Georgia Dome.